Friday, August 11, 2006

Using Worship Aids to Catechize and Evangelize

When I was a campus minister at a Catholic college, we would have many non-Catholics or marginal Catholics attending the big school liturgies such as the Welcome Mass at the beginning of the school year or the Baccalaureate Mass at the end.

For these events, we included some introductory text in the worship aid that would serve not only to welcome everyone, but also to instruct those unfamiliar with the Catholic Mass and to invite those who might be seeking a place of worship.

Below is the text that we used (and they are still using) in the Baccalaureate Mass worship aid. Please feel free to use and adapt this for your own worship aids when many visitors may be present. Remember to avoid Church “lingo,” acronyms, or terminology that those unfamiliar with the Church would not understand.

At important moments in our lives, Catholics set aside time to give thanks to God for the joys of milestones, for the help received in reaching goals, and for God’s promised strength for the challenges ahead. Catholics do this best when we celebrate the Mass.

The Catholic Mass has two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Liturgy of the Word, we hear stories from the Bible that tell how God was present in the lives of our ancestors. We then seek to know how God continues to be present in our lives today. We end this part of the Mass with prayers for our world and our community so that God will bring healing and peace to those parts of lives most in need of God’s presence. In the liturgy of the Eucharist, we share a meal that recalls the love of Christ for us. By this meal we become united and strengthened to be the love of Christ for others.

In the Mass, Catholics believe Christ is fully present and embodied in many ways: through the people gathered together; in the Scriptures proclaimed, in the ministers of the Church, and most of all in the consecrated bread and wine that is shared. Thus, we give reverence to each of these holy incarnations of Christ.

If you are Catholic, welcome home. If you are of another faith, please feel welcomed in this home. If you are seeking a faith community, we pray you find welcome wherever you may go and that you might consider the Catholic Church a home for you. For all of us, let us participate as much as we are able in the songs and responses so that our voices can joy together to remember and give thanks for the blessings God gives us.

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